As Tropical Storm Idalia approaches, Florida officials issued a warning about “potentially widespread” fuel contamination along the state’s Gulf Coast that might harm automobile engines and increase the likelihood that drivers would become stuck.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued a warning on Sunday afternoon on the possibility of “human error” contaminating fuel purchased from more than two dozen petrol outlets supplied by Citgo after 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Workers at Citgo, which provides fuel to the greater Tampa region, unintentionally swapped diesel and petrol in a shipment to stations on Saturday, which led to the contamination. Citgo issued a list of the 29 stations that were allegedly affected, some of which were as far north as Brooksville and others as far south as Fort Myers.
According to the alert, tainted petrol and diesel “have the potential to damage engines or affect operability,” which may cause breakdowns in motor vehicles. In the event of power disruptions brought on by a storm, generators may also be impacted.
According to the advisory, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has instructed affected stations to halt selling petrol until all contaminated gasoline has been replaced and tanks have been cleansed. Inquiries made Sunday evening were not promptly answered by the agency or Citgo.
The statement followed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) emergency declaration as the state got ready for Tropical Storm Idalia, which forecasts estimate could intensify into a powerful hurricane and make landfall on Tuesday or Wednesday.
There may be those who are just trapped on the side of the road. It won’t go well if you start driving after filling up your tank with diesel, I mean. DeSantis expressed alarm about that during a press conference on Sunday.
He said that authorities will soon make public a list of the stations that were impacted, letting everyone who refueled there know “they probably don’t want to drive their car.” Anyone concerned that they could have been impacted can start a claim on Citgo’s website, the company stated.
To avoid long lines and shortages during evacuations, the state normally urges citizens to keep their gas tanks at least halfway filled throughout hurricane season.
According to DeSantis, the state government has opened an inquiry into the fuel contamination.
To “get resources into the state as quickly and efficiently as possible,” state officials have relaxed fuel truck size, weight, and hour limitations, according to Kevin Guthrie, executive director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, who spoke at the press conference with DeSantis.
Guthrie went on to state that they are coordinating with ports, oil traders, and all other pertinent parties to “ensure that this disruption won’t be widespread and that residents can have seamless access to fuel.”
Although some of Citgo’s fuel terminals are physically located within the port, a spokesperson for Port Tampa Bay, where the tainted fuel was delivered, made it clear that Citgo’s activities are “not under the purview of the port’s authority or oversight.”
According to Lisa Wolf-Chason, a spokesperson for Port Tampa Bay, the port is in touch with five of its partner gasoline terminal operators and has been “assured” that they are “prepared to deliver fuel and support consumers” despite the storm.